Michael Bay Did Not Ruin The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
This is probably going to be an unpopular opinion, but I am hopeful that most readers will see that there is a nugget of truth to the above statement. As someone who writes about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so frequently, I am very well aware that a lot of fans are unhappy with the latest films from Platinum Dunes and Paramount. Believe me, I understand the frustrations and the complaints, but I think it’s time that we all collectively stop blaming Michael Bay. He may have produced both films, but that doesn’t mean that he made every single decision that you hated in the film franchise.
Although a producer is typically behind most of the decisions made in a film, they do not necessarily direct how a film will be made. Direction is performed by the director; at best, the producer simply gives the go-ahead to them when they make a decision. Although there are some producers who will strong arm their talent into doing what they want, there is no evidence to suggest that this is happening at Platinum Dunes. Michael Bay has definitely had an important role in creating the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film franchise, but he has not been the only person involved.
To give you an idea of the level of influence that Michael Bay has had over this film franchise, let’s look at the casting decisions that were made. Given that Bay worked with Megan Fox in the past, there’s chance that he had something to do with her getting the role of April O’Neil. That being said, he doesn’t really have any ties to other actors in either film, so it’s unlikely that he did much of anything when it came to the casting. For all we know, he secured an audition for Fox (or simply let her know that there were auditions for the role), and she won the role all on her own.
When it comes to the visual and special effects, it’s very unlikely that Michael Bay influenced much of anything. Nowadays, studios hire large teams of people to oversee these facets of the film-making process. Unless Bay was watching over every single shoulder or giving them some kind of information about exactly how he wanted the turtles to look, chances are that the creative decisions about the design of the turtles were pretty much out of his hands. At best, he’s guilty of taking a look at their work and saying “this will do the trick.” That’s the role of a producer.
Do I think that Michael Bay was the best producer that could have been chosen for these films? Probably not, but I also don’t think he ruined the films either. To be honest, I really enjoyed Out of the Shadows; it felt like a huge departure from the first film in the Platinum Dunes TMNT canon. Tonally, the sequel is entirely different from its predecessor, borrowing more from the original animated series than from any other iteration of the characters.
The fact that Bay produced both of these films is evidence enough that he really isn’t in the business of controlling every single creative decision made during production. After all, if he were in complete and total control of the creative processes behind each movie, they would both look and feel exactly the same. The fact that they are so different is proof that he really hasn’t been trying to instigate his own weird vision of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Despite all of the evidence suggesting otherwise, I still see a lot of fans blaming the failure of the latest TMNT films on none other than Michael Bay. Fans have been upset with the film-maker ever since he made a mistake during a speech, suggesting that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were aliens. The level of outrage over these comments was unbelievable, and it had a negative effect on how the fans felt about Bay’s involvement with the films. Ever since then, he has been the convenient scapegoat to blame for every problem that anyone might have with the Platinum Dunes TMNT universe.
I’m not trying to say that Michael Bay is a brilliant film-maker that is deserving of your respect. I don’t personally consider myself a fan of his work, but I also don’t think he’s the worst producer you could ever choose. All I’m trying to suggest is that you shouldn’t necessarily use him as a scapegoat every time you point out a flaw with either of the last two TMNT movies. If you have a problem with how the turtles look, that’s the fault of the team of visual and special effects artists; if you don’t like the casting, blame the casting department; if you have a problem with the editing, blame the team of editors; if you don’t like how the film was shot, blame the director or the cinematographer.
Film is a composition – it is a work of art crafted by many different people. The producer does not control all of these people, they supervise and coordinate everything. Production is one of many roles in the film-making process. Although that role is important, it isn’t a role that defines exactly how everything in the film turns out. It’s convenient to blame one person for something you don’t like, but that doesn’t mean that it is also accurate to blame them.
You don’t have to like Michael Bay, but you probably shouldn’t be blaming him for everything that happened during the film-making process of both Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.